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"The Importance of Recognizing the Humanity of Incarcerated Individuals" with Artie Gonzales

Updated: Aug 28, 2023


Artie Gonzales is a survivor, a reformed individual, and a role model for those seeking redemption and personal growth. Having experienced the harsh reality of the justice system at a young age, Artie turned his life around during his 21 years of incarceration in the California prison system. He has since emerged as an advocate for legislative reforms, a member of social justice organizations, and a campaigner for empathy and humanity in the workplace. Artie's incredible journey is a testament to the power of resilience, determination, and the value of looking beyond our own prejudices to understand and empathize with those facing great adversity.

We found it important to include Artie in our Humanity in the Workplace season because recognizing the humanity of every worker and fostering an environment of empathy and understanding is essential for creating a thriving organization. By embracing inclusivity and valuing each individual's unique perspectives, businesses can develop a more well-rounded decision-making process, increase workforce satisfaction, and ultimately achieve better results. Artie Gonzales's experiences with Manifest Works, a program that trains system-impacted individuals for positions in the film industry, showcases the power of humanizing the workplace. He credits the program for helping him transition back into society, praising their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Artie's story highlights the potential of a compassionate and inclusive workplace to transform lives and create opportunities for personal and professional growth.

In this episode:

  • The value of a strong emotional wellness foundation for personal and professional growth

  • The key role of social connections and the consequences of isolation on our emotional state

  • The human stories intertwined within the justice system

  • Key leadership skills that promote humanity and empathy in a work environment

  • Leveraging empathetic, compassionate, and heart-centered leadership for a unified mission and vision

Timestamp of Topics:

00:05:00 - Artie's Passion for Emotional Wellness, Artie discusses his passion for emotional wellness and his belief in the importance of reconnecting with emotions and feelings. He also explains how his own journey, including his time in prison, has influenced his perspective. 00:09:27 - The Role of Emotions in Artie's Incarceration, Artie shares his childhood experience of losing his grandmother, who was his primary caregiver, and how this led him to turn to the streets and eventually join a gang. He discusses how peer pressure and the need for acceptance played a role in his actions. 00:12:41 - Finding Acceptance in Prison, Artie talks about the positive aspect of peer pressure and acceptance in prison, where it provided a sense of family and belonging. However, he also discusses the negative consequences, such as engaging in harmful activities to meet the expectations of the group. 00:16:02 - Coping with Isolation, Artie discusses how his experiences have led him to channel his energy into a healthier way of coping with isolation. He stresses the importance of not going down the same path he did and shares his insights on how to maintain emotional wellness. 00:19:04 - "Isolation and Sensory Deprivation," Artie describes how isolation and sensory deprivation were used as tactics against his mind during his eight years in solitary confinement. He explains how he never physically saw the sun and how every aspect of solitary confinement was meant to make him feel more alone than he had ever felt in his life. He witnessed many people lose their grasp of reality in the time he was there, and he believes that the use of solitary confinement is classified as torture. 00:22:14 - "Survival and Self-Awareness," Artie explains how he was able to survive in solitary confinement by creating a daily program that involved exercise, reading, and writing. He also talks about going inward and learning about meditation during his final two years in isolation. He reconnected with his humanity and realized that feelings and emotions were the pathways for him to redefine his identity. 00:27:11 - "The Importance of Social Connection," Artie discusses how the pandemic demonstrated the importance of social connection in the human experience. He explains how being forced into isolation due to the pandemic had a significant mental health effect on people. He believes that the emotion of isolation is real and that people need deep listening, compassion, and hugs during these times. 00:29:13 - "Going Inward and Reclaiming Humanity," Artie talks about going inward and learning about meditation during his final two years in solitary confinement. He reconnected with his humanity and realized that feelings and emotions were the pathways for him to redefine 00:36:26 - Importance of Emotional Healing for Children and Adults, Artie Gonzales discusses the importance of emotional healing for both children and adults. He believes that as we grow, we can get unconditioned out of feeling because of the environments, situations, friendships, or work environments we get into. He mentions that the criminal justice system is intentionally designed to dehumanize, and his goal is to remind inmates of their humanity. 00:39:18 - Bringing Humanity into the Criminal Justice System, Artie Gonzales says that the criminal justice system is not designed to humanize and is intentionally built to dehumanize. He emphasizes that every person who is incarcerated is a hurt child with unmet needs. He talks about his work with inmates, mentoring them, reminding them of their humanity, and discussing how to reconnect with their inner child. 00:44:26 - Humanizing the Justice System, Artie Gonzales talks about his experience of working with young men in probation camps. He mentions how the system labels them as criminals and dehumanizes them. He believes that if the system becomes more humane and acknowledges the unmet needs of the inmates, it can make progress in humanizing the justice system. He emphasizes unlikely alliances and acknowledges the guards who genuinely care for the inmates. 00:49:17 - Manifest Works, Artie Gonzales talks about his experience of finding a job in the film industry through Manifest Works. He credits the organization for helping him get through PTSD after his incarceration and training him for jobs in the film industry. 00:53:28 - The importance of humanizing the workplace, Artie Gonzales shares how he met Dan Seaver through Manifest Works and started doing leadership development in juvenile probation centers. He emphasizes the importance of bringing humanity into the workplace and acknowledges the value of Lil' Artie wearing the ManifestWorks hat in his book. 00:54:35 - Qualities of leaders who create environments of humanity, Artie Gonzales highlights the qualities of leaders who humanize the workplace, including reconnecting people with their purpose and self-realization, leading by inspiration, being humble enough to acknowledge shortcomings, and leading as a community. 00:57:08 - The importance of leading with humility and authenticity, Artie Gonzales emphasizes the importance of leading with authenticity, humility, and empathy. He encourages people to experience the full range of their emotions and lead with their heart and reminds listeners that they are loving beings at their core. 00:59:38 - Final thoughts, Artie Gonzales encourages listeners to take time to reconnect with themselves and lead with love, empathy, and compassion. He expresses his gratitude for the support of his book and tells listeners that he loves them, is proud of them, and is glad they are here. 01:01:01 - Closing remarks, Christie Mann thanks Artie Gonzales for his heartfelt contribution to the conversation and reminds listeners to check out his book. They end the conversation by saying "cape on" and expressing their love and appreciation for their listeners.

About UpLevel Productions: Founded by Christie Mann, MA, CPCC, PCC, and Rachel Baldi, CPCC, PCC, UpLevel creates, produces, and delivers Transformative Experiences, Workshops, Training, Events + Media that develop leaders who make our world a healthier, more alive, and connected place to be. As Associate CTI Faculty Partners, UpLevel is licensed to sell, produce and deliver Co-Active coach training and leadership development programs around the world to support the transformational growth of individuals and culture inside the workplace and organization. Instagram @uplevelproductions Facebook & LinkedIn @uplevelproductionscompany


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